Utah residents hit the snow for less
December 29, 2011
Utah played an instrumental role in establishing the month of January as the country’s official Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, according to Ski Utah Marketing Director Raelene Davis, who said the campaign reached a national level four years ago. Originally established as a grassroots effort, its popularity grew to where more than 75,000 lessons were taken through the program last year. This year, more than 32 states and 200 resorts are participating.
"There was a call put out about growing the sports that we love. We wanted to self proclaim January as Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and in three years it has really grown," she said.
Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and Canyons will be offering special packages through January for skiers who are brand new to the sport. Most of the resorts throughout Utah are offering deals for under $40 that include lessons, a lift ticket and equipment rentals.
In conjunction with January’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, Ski Utah will continue its fifth- and sixth-grade passport program, which allows students to ski and snowboard for free at 14 resorts throughout Utah. Encouraging young students to hit the slopes promotes a healthy lifestyle and keeps children active during the winter, Davis said, adding that they have offered the program for more than 20 years.
"It’s been so successful and we’ve brought many people into the sport and not just the kids but the parents too," Davis said. "They love it and we love it, and it’s a way for the ski industry to give back to the community."
The program started because the National Ski Areas Association was looking for a way to reach out to the echo boomers, who were under the age of 19 during the 1998 99 season.
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"It was an answer to the National Ski Areas Association meeting in 1997," she said. "They recognized the need to reach out to the ski industry for something that would help grow the sport."
The program is offered to 5th- and 6th-graders because that’s the age when it’s easy for students to gain ski and snowboarding skills, Davis said, adding that more than 8,000 students participate each year.
"Our hope is that we can get children to participate in the sport and enjoy it and learn another winter activity and hopefully that will become a part of the lifetime routine," she said.
Passports cost $25 to $35 and applications can be filled out and submitted online. Davis said a 5th-grade passport provides the student with three passes to each of the state’s 14 resorts, which is a total of 42 days of skiing or snowboarding. Sixth-graders get one pass to each of the resorts, a total of 14 days on the slopes.
Some states require students to write an essay or do a project in order to receive a passport, but it’s open to any 5th- and 6th-grader in Utah. She said Ski Utah used to have a 4th-grade program that helped beginner athletes learn to ski and snowboard.
"We would teach the kids in 4th-grade and then the passport would give them the opportunity to test the skills the next year with a free passport," she said. " the time the students are in 7th-grade, it becomes time for them to make the decision about where to buy a pass and the passport has given them the experience at each resort so they can make a more educated choice."
Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month packages:
From Jan. 2 through Jan. 31, Canyons will be offering a package for $39. It includes a $13 lift ticket, $13 beginner ski or snowboard lesson for five hours and $13 equipment rental. Children must be over 4 years old. Advance reservations are recommended and proof of Utah residency must be presented. For more information call (435) 649-5400.
Deer Valley Resort
Learn to Ski at Deer Valley on Jan. 28. for $39. A valid Utah drivers license or a photo ID with a current Utah property tax form, utility bill or Utah business paycheck stub, will be required. Lessons are offered from 9 a.m. to noon. Children must be 13 or older. Space is limited to 55 people. Reservations must be made before Jan. 26. For more information call Deer Valley at (435) 645-6648.
Park City Mountain Resort
Hit the snow in Park City Mountain Resort’s StartNOW program. Launched during the 2009-10 season, the program aims to teach Utah residents 6 and older how to ski or snowboard. Participants will receive five lessons including lift access and equipment rentals for each session. The cost is $199 or less than $40 per session. For more information call PCMR at (435) 649-8111.